Nordic

Soft Snow Holds Back USA

by
USSA
2015-02-20 09:37
 

FALUN, Sweden (Feb. 20, 2015) - A strong day of jumping didn’t hold up for the USA in Friday's nordic combined, as soft snow conditions hampered their move up in the 10k cross country. Germany’s Johannes Rydzek took gold in a close battle with Italy’s Alessandro Pittin, who was the only skier able to bridge the gap from chase to lead pack and challenge. Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) led the USA in 19th, 1:32.5 back.

It was a solid day of jumping for the Americans after multiple wind delays. Olympic champ Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) was 10th after the jump with rookie Ben Berend (Steamboat Springs, CO) sitting in the leader’s chair for a while, jumping to 16th. All four Americans were within 1:31 of the leader going into cross country.

In the early going of the 10k cross country event - four laps through the stadium - Demong started moving up as did Taylor Fletcher, joining together with brother Bryan. Frenzel lead a pack of six leaders with two chase packs quickly coming together into one, but still 40-50 seconds behind the leaders. As the race progressed, Taylor Fletcher continued to move up and the chase pack cut down the margin. Pittin was the first to bridge, sprinting out of the chase to catch the leaders going into the final lap. But the gap was too much for the chase pack to manage, struggling in soft snow that was boot-top high at some points.

Frenzel's teammate Rydzek moved up into the lead but was challenged by Pittin, who took command in the final lap. A momentary stumble by the Italian coming into the stadium was the break Rydzek needed, sprinting into the lead and holding it to the finish. 

"This is historically my type of conditions, same as Liberec, Vancouver and Sapporo (where he medaled)," said Demong. "You have to be fit to be fast in this type of snow. I felt pretty good for the first couple laps. But when I had to follow other people, I fell apart a bit."

"Normally I’m pretty comfortable in these conditions," said Taylor Fletcher. "But today I didn’t feel like myself. I think I was trying a little too hard in some sections and paid the price. But I gave it everything I had. Definitely have to be smarter and smoother."

A positive on the day was the performance on the jump hill, especially important going into Sunday's team event.

"We really showed that we’re jumping well," added Taylor Fletcher. "Things are getting better and better. I’m comfortable and we’re improving day by day. A couple more meters and it would have been a different story today. I wouldn’t have to try to hard at the beginning to get into the groups."

Sunday's team event lineup will be announced Saturday.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • All four Americans had a strong day on the jumps led by Billy Demong who was tenth, 58 seconds back going into cross country.
  • Newcomer Ben Berend was impressive on the jumps, finish 14th and sitting in the lead until Demong bumped him out.
  • Taylor Fletcher was 19th overall, brother Bryan 21st, Demong 25th and Berend 45th.
  • Adam Loomis sat out the competition to rest after a brief illness.
  • Next up is the team competition Sunday.

 

QUOTES
Taylor Fletcher

Normally I’m pretty comfortable in these conditions. But today I didn’t feel like myself. I think I was trying a little too hard in some sections and paid the price. But I gave it everything I had. Definitely have to be smarter and smoother.

 

We really showed that we’re jumping well. Things are getting better and better. I’m comfortable and we’re improving day by day. A couple more meters and it would have been a different story today. I wouldn’t have to try to hard at the beginning to get into the groups.
 
Billy Demong
This is historically my type of conditions, same as Liberec, Vancouver and Sapporo. You have to be fit to be fast in this type of snow. I felt pretty good for the first couple laps. But when I had to follow other people, I fell apart a bit.
 
Taylor and Bryan have been two of the fastest skiers this year. Sunday is another day and we’ll take the confidence from the jumping and reset our race mentality. Anything’s possible any day.

RESULTS
Men's World Championships nordic combined

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